Casinos and sportsbooks have been hastening the parting of ways between fools and their money for a while now and they’ll continue to do so even if the bubble eventually bursts on the ubiquity of their direct ties to teams and leagues. Whether it’s setting the lines on NFL games or projecting the future destination of a big free agent, bookmakers typically know more than the rest of us.
Hell, Vegas is the reason NFL injury lists are so highly regulated and why we now get MLB lineups a little closer to gametime than we used to. Rather than follow any conspiratorial rabbit trails here, I just wanted to set up the fact that DraftKings lists the Cubs as relatively heavy favorites to land Carlos Correa in free agency. At +250, they are well ahead of the Cardinals and Twins as of Monday morning.
Of course, this isn’t just a matter of the DK folks truly believing the Cubs will actually land Correa. They know Cubs fans are hungry for a splashy move, perhaps to the extent that they’d be enticed to lay down a little bet on it. There’s more than a kernel of plausibility to it, but this still feels more like titillation than prognostication. Why not both, huh?
The player futures on the app are limited, with only Trea Turner (Cubs +750), Jacob deGrom (Cubs +3000), and Aaron Judge (Cubs +2200) listed in addition to Correa. I wonder where Xander Bogaerts would fall, because I’d put the Cubs right up there at the top based on what we’ve seen and heard so far. The latest bit of evidence, if we want to call it that, comes from Robert Murray’s top 25 free agent rankings at Fansided.
While I’m not a big fan of the format here, Murray names the Cubs and Dodgers “among the teams that make sense.” There appears to be an error of omission because Murray is clearly referencing Nico Hoerner without naming him, so keep that in mind if you end up reading the piece. LA is looking to replace Turner and has also been discussed as a potential destination for Dansby Swanson should the Braves not bring him back, which is interesting.
Neither Bogaerts nor Swanson will command the same kind of money as Correa and Turner are likely to get, and there’s gathering buzz that the market may not be as robust as a whole after last season. With the Cubs looking to limit long-term exposure, it makes sense for them to see whether Bogaerts and Scott Boras would be amenable to a deal that compresses something similar to his projected salary over one or even two years less than expected.
If the bookmakers are motivated by more than just simply trying to juice wagers from excited Cubs fans, they might believe Correa will end up needing to do more of the same. Being able to land him on a six-year deal would be one helluva coup and I get the sense that some people in the industry think it’s a possibility. Maybe I can lay both cents in my account on it.
Without trying to set my own odds on the matter, I’d rank the likelihood of these shortstops signing with the Cubs as follows: Bogaerts, Correa, Swanson, Turner. Pretty sure that’s been the same for about a week, but ask me again tomorrow and I may have a different opinion.